Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus (2 stars)

Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus

Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman star in Sebastian Silva's half-baked drug movie

The central event of this film involves the main character Jamie (Michael Cera) chopping up the ‘magical’ San Pedro cactus of the title, mixing it into a mushy swill, then cooking it in a pot for nine hours, in hopes of a legendary high from the resulting drink. This scenario offers a reasonable metaphor for the film itself: it is essentially a mushy swill of ideas and characters thrown together by writer/director Sebastian Silva (The Maid) and left to marinade in a decidedly flavourless story. Alas, just as the characters in the film fail to find the legendary high, so Silva fails to cook up anything more than unfulfilled potential in this half-baked movie.

The ingredients are promising: on the eve of a South American road-trip to find and imbibe the aforementioned cactus, Jamie goes to a party, takes a pile of drugs and inadvertently invites eccentric earth-mother Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman) to join him and his friends on the trip. But as soon as they get in a car together Jamie’s difficult, arrogant, know-it-all personality clashes with Crystal’s near-parodic spiritual babbling, and a passive-aggressive battle for supremacy begins.

The main problem with Silva’s shoestring budgeted film is that it lacks any sense of unity; there are some effectively creepy moments, an oddly surreal post drug-taking scene and a few funny bits, but they don’t connect into a meaningful story. The cumulative effect is negligible, and the film could comfortably end at any point in its final 30 minutes and have exactly the same impact as the actual ending.

A much better example of Silva’s undoubted filmmaking skill is his forthcoming Magic Magic, released in April and superior to Crystal Fairy in every way.

Selected release from Fri 17 Jan.

Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus! Official Trailer #1 2013 (HD) - Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • Chile
  • 1h 38min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Sebastián Silva
  • Cast: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva
  • UK release: 17 January 2014

On the eve of a South American road trip, Jamie (Cera) goes to a party, takes a lot of drugs and inadvertently invites eccentric earth-mother Crystal Fairy (Hoffman) to come along. A promising setup is wasted as Silva's film has no sense of unity; a series of disconnected events doesn't make for a meaningful story.